- Feb 22, 2006
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Make Security Habits Second Nature
Take security beyond the dead bolts and alarm systems.
The strongest dead-bolt lock won't protect your home if you still leave a spare key under the doormat. And the most sophisticated alarm system is useless if you don't bother to arm it when you make those quick trips next door to have coffee with your neighbor.
Effective home security depends on developing habits that become second nature for each member of your family. You probably won't have to make overwhelming changes -- just stay alert and aware, and use good common sense. Incorporating these tips and strategies into your daily routine is a "better safe than sorry" move you'll never regret.
- Use your locks -- even when you're home. Get in the habit of keeping doors and windows locked all the time. Although many intruders will steer clear of occupied houses, don't bet your family's safety on it.
- Vary your routine. If neighbors can set their watches by your comings and goings, a potential intruder can easily figure out when you'll be gone and for how long. You probably can't change the hours you work, but going to the grocery store or health club at different times of the day can make your schedule less predictable.
- Use the phone wisely. Never leave a message on your answering machine that tells callers no one's home; say, "We're not available to take your call right now" instead. If you or your kids are home alone, callers shouldn't know it; answering the phone by shouting "I've got it" into the next room before you say hello will give the impression someone else is there with you. Also consider taking advantage of new phone services that minimize nuisance calls; you can set your phone to block anonymous calls from people who don't want to be identified by Caller ID systems.
- Keep valuables out of sight. Look at your rooms from a window peeper's point of view. Placing a computer, TV, or stereo directly in front of or across from a window is asking for trouble. Valuables like purses, wallets, jewelry, and cell phones inadvertently set down on a table near a window are the stock in trade of "smash and grab" burglars.
- Track your trash. Don't advertise your home's contents by curbing the empty box for the new computer or TV you just bought. Instead, break it down and put it in a trash bag. And consider buying a paper shredder to protect your privacy and valuable identification information from trash riflers.
- Screen people who show up at your door. Whether they're door-to-door salespeople or "professionals" wearing uniforms, make sure to ask for and see appropriate identification.